The defining traits of most Bitcoiners can be measured along the following lines: trust, reputation and honor with integrity.
I’ve personally examined and talked multiple times about trust and reputation within our social space, but have not arrived at a definitive agreement around the importance of honor. It is just as important as the other two aspects when we make new friends and align ourselves with groups. These dynamic forces determine whether or not we are worthy of someone’s time, attention, trust or support.
The Bitcoiner’s organization must rest on the solid foundations of mutual trust (a verified type of trust!) that is built up over the years, through the experience of camaraderie, belonging and brotherly conduct. This at the same time builds reputation for individuals, who gain general trust within our space that they must maintain else they risk becoming rejected.
Reputation determines the depth of an individual’s trustworthiness and helps enable extensions of trust to broad circles beyond one’s connections and affiliation. Those who lack these interpersonal relationships will never be able to function the same way as those who have actively engaged with other Bitcoiners. Owning 100 bitcoin in quiet seclusion does nothing to build your reputation, whereas having 1 bitcoin and 200 Bitcoiner friends is much more advantageous in this regard.
Generally, interpersonal trust and your earned reputation are enough to enter into loose connections and mingle around groups of your liking. But they are not enough to stand the test of time. If one lacks honor, nothing can be done to save thyself.
Why is honor so important for us? Honor itself governs the longevity of alliances. Medieval chivalry was governed by core tenets of honor that had to be abided by to fulfill an alliance’s needs in case one’s alliance was attacked by enemies. Today’s perspective on this can be viewed as honoring your obligations, written or unwritten, that govern relationships.
If you are within such social circles where cooperation is elevated and members are interfered with or threatened, you are bound by honor to fulfill your obligation to provide support, else your standing in your group will be null and void. In such mechanisms, reputation and trust are also damaged if honor is not fulfilled according to the obligation set forth by one’s state within an organization.
An organization can be any group of people, whether they be a circle of friends or a family. The fulfillment of our obligations towards caring for family shows we are bound by our honor for our blood and wield the correct state of ethics and values to lead a family or be a member of it.
Chivalry within the western hemisphere was set on the footings of Judeo-Christian ethics — however, as atheism has taken more footing among civilization it has cleared the standard slate of code of conduct of coexistence.
But here we must take a step aside from chivalry because it alone is not enough for the ideal state of being. Fulfilling honor in the modern day can only be governed correctly by following the code of the Bushido.
Japanese civilization had a completely different environment for the development of its code of conduct, in which a greater emphasis was placed on honor gained in order to gain general influence. The order of being here is governed by Shintoism and Zen Buddhism. The Bushido for centuries governed the Samurai ethics, and this helped them gain superiority over their foes, controlling most aspects of life in order to, in theory, make the Samurai superior, but not just in character. Some of these controls were related to how to behave with your friends, how to treat your enemies, who to respect or how to be loyal, etc. The societal effect of enforcing these virtues was more clear and stronger and not influenced by corruption like that which was present in the environment of Chivalry. This is why we can consider this a superior ethical state of being. 1(When we refer to the state of being, we have to imagine it as a philosophical concept that attempts to explain an acceptable way of existence that leads to a fulfilled life; one that coexists with nature — reality — in the world around us. This philosophical thought can be mainly attributed to multiple key Central European thinkers, for example the likes of Friedrich Nitzsche, Martin Heidegger and Jan Patočka.)
Now, let’s take a better look at it.
The Edo (1603-1868) and Meiji (1868-1945) code of virtues were not the only codes of Bushido, but we can say they were the “best” ones. Since they were later time periods, they contained more refined virtues. Both codes were similar, but they diverged in some aspects. After World War II, Bushido in the applied sense ceased to exist. Japan had lost the war, and because of that, the Japanese army was disabled and came under the control of the United State’s military might.
Although the application of these virtues are long gone from reality, it doesn’t mean we can not adopt them as something to follow as Bitcoiners. A combination of both Bushido ethics is better fitting for the Bitcoiner’s present life circumstances. It is fitting because organizations are stronger if they are based on sound core virtues that allow for longer co-existence and can lead to stronger alliances that are harder to break.
Honor can not exist without integrity and vice versa, since we must have a given ethical order of being that allows us to maintain societal functions of trust. We cannot maintain an ethical order with only some parts being honored. In a nutshell Hegel’s description of this claims that Bushido would have never been a code of virtue if core aspects of it would have been missing. In relation to Bitcoiner’s ethics, we can relate to the fact that we must adopt these virtues as a whole and reformulate it to modernity’s standards so that it becomes fit for usage today. Hegel’s phenomenology also tells us that we must look back into the past to find solutions for our present flaws that will allow us to become whole again. By abiding by codes of honor, we can overcome our difficulties and become better human beings.
Since we abide by our honor, we claim that we are willing to go to great lengths to fulfill our obligations because our integrity governs our moral, ethical conduct towards our peers. Bitcoin is not a living state, but we can observe similarities. For example, if we do not abide by the consensus of the network, transactions will be rejected and we will end up on a different network. Fulfilling our obligations to protect the network is done by people and not by machines. We just run the code to protect everyone’s stored value. We honour our unspoken or unwritten obligations towards the network and we work towards maintaining it even if there is a conflict that arises from it. Miners keep mining because it is their duty to protect their own money that they use — if they didn’t have skin in the game, they wouldn’t protect it. When miners were shut down in China, most miners didn’t just sell their equipment but instead relocated their operation to continue pursuing both profit and the maintenance of the network’s security.
Interpersonal relationships also depend on the fulfillment of obligations. If we are voluntarily part of groups and are interested in organizing for the benefit of everyone, then a moral code of conduct must be honored. Without such, groups are often ill fated to fragment and fall apart.
Integrity at this point assures that if conflicts arise within our group, we honor our obligations, especially if we wish to maintain a friendly relationship with an already existing group. If you are saying one thing and later acting differently, it will signal to others that you are no longer honor bound. This will damage your existing relationships and jeopardize your continued presence in the group. This kind of dishonesty has consequences.
Edo Bushido’s harmony and tranquility are also fitting because many Bitcoiners passively seek to coexist in peace. Being on good terms with your peers — and neighbours — and not being overly concerned by the noise can help you achieve tranquility and become a better bitcoiner in general.
We can only try to aim higher with our goals and better ourselves to become better human beings, especially Bitcoiners, in order to better defend the network through our participation. Not one solution I explained above is a one size fits all one, but you will have to find the right amount of them and build your own ethics to make you last.
I understand it might feel complicated and overwhelming to navigate this complex world of bitcoiners and all its weird critters like cyber hornets, space cats, dogs, goats, honey badgers, dragons and ordinary human beings. But I hope this short essay will be of help to you on your path towards helping others to change the world for the better.
This is a guest post by Karo Zagorus. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.